Transforming the EU Power Grid to Realise Climate Goals

An EU initiative will lay the foundations of a more flexible and efficient system to facilitate the smooth integration of large amounts of renewable energy into the electricity network.

power grid

With the EU’s commitment to obtain at least 32 % of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, the supply of electricity is becoming more variable, creating various challenges for the power system. In 2017, the share of renewable energy in the EU’s gross final energy consumption reached 17.52 %, approaching its target of 20 % for 2020.

In fact, the past few years have seen a continuous rise in the overall share of renewable energy sources (RESs) and in the sectoral shares of renewable energy sources for electricity (RES-E), heating and cooling, and, to a lesser extent, transport. The integration of ever-increasing levels of RESs requires new types of system and flexibility services. The EU-funded EU-SysFlex project aims to achieve exactly that. It’s seeking the right blend of such services to provide a secure and resilient transmission system operation.

Long-term roadmap

The project will identify the long-term needs and the technical scarcities of the future power system for scenarios with more than 50 % of RES-E. These scarcities involve frequency, voltage and rotor angle stability, as well as increased congestion and limited restoration capacity in the event of a power system collapse or system inadequacy. EU-SysFlex will help strengthen the regulatory framework and provide an improved market design through solutions across all system sectors. It will also make recommendations focusing on data management in flexibility services where the customer perspective is used as the starting point. The stakeholders include transmission system operators (TSOs), distribution system operators (DSOs), suppliers, flexibility providers and energy service companies. The model will enable the interoperability of different platforms across Europe.

Almost halfway through its 4-year term, the EU-SysFlex (Pan-European system with an efficient coordinated use of flexibilities for the integration of a large share of RES) project is working on seven industrial-scale demonstrations to test new flexibility and system services. Following the replicability and scalability analysis, the partners will eventually develop a long-term roadmap of actions to facilitate the large-scale integration of new technologies and capabilities in Europe.

In May, the EU-SysFlex project organised a joint Horizon 2020 workshop: ‘TSO-DSO cooperation in flexibility market integration’. A video summarises how the TSOs and DSOs presented their flexibility use cases during the workshop. They also debated the large-scale integration of variable RES-E. In the video, Kalle Kukk, leader of the EU-SysFlex Work Package on cross-border and cross-sectoral data management and exchange, emphasises two crucial aspects of the project. The first is easy market access, including small players. The second is easy data access. As noted on the project website, EU-SysFlex is part of the European Commission’s BRIDGE initiative that “unites Horizon 2020 Smart Grid and Energy Storage Projects to create a structured view of cross-cutting issues which are encountered in the demonstration projects and may constitute an obstacle to innovation.”

For more information, please see: EU-SysFlex project website